If you have been chosen as the personal representative or executor to administer someone’s estate, it puts you in a position of great trust and authority. That’s the good news. The bad news is that if you don’t follow Massachusetts probate rules, you could be personally liable for mistakes.
Most people find it very helpful to work with an experienced probate administration attorney from the very start. At Jordan & White, LLC, we can manage the process on your behalf to ensure compliance with requirements and avoid potential pitfalls. We provide compassionate and efficient guidance to save your family time and money during this difficult time.
Probate is the legal process of settling a person’s financial affairs after they pass away. The process can be simplified in cases where the deceased person left few assets. However, many estates must undergo the full formal probate process.
The laws of probate are designed to ensure that bills are paid properly and the right people are notified who might have a claim on the estate, either as creditors or heirs. Although the court establishes the validity of a will as part of the probate process, an estate may still go through probate even if there is no will.
The court will choose a family member to administer the estate if the deceased person did not leave a will naming a personal representative. If there is a will naming an executor, the court must officially approve that representative before they have authority to act on behalf of the estate.
Some assets will not pass through probate. For instance, if the deceased person owned real estate with another person who had the right of survivorship, the interest in the property goes directly to that person, although the property should be re-titled. Property held in a trust or accounts with beneficiary clauses will also pass directly to beneficiaries without going through probate.
Duties During Probate
The executor, representative or administrator will need to undertake several tasks in specific order to satisfy probate requirements. When you work with an attorney, your legal advisor can often handle many of these jobs on your behalf, starting with the process of validating a will and getting you approved as the estate’s representative.
Tasks to be completed include:
- Inventorying assets and debts of the estate
- Getting property appraised and sold if necessary to satisfy debts
- Publishing notice to potential creditors and notifying heirs
- Paying creditors in order of priority
- Paying taxes and filing tax returns
- Distributing assets to legatees or heirs in accordance with the will or the laws of intestate succession
- Creating and filing a final account report with the probate court
If someone was left out of a will and wants to challenge it, or they believe the personal representative hasn’t followed the rules, then matters could end up in litigation.
Let Jordan & White Assist with the Demands of Probate Administration
Dealing with the death of a loved one is challenging enough without trying to understand how to fulfill probate requirements. At Jordan & White, LLC, we can manage the process on your behalf so that you can focus on moving your family forward. Contact us to learn about the ways we can assist during this demanding time.